First-ever program launches a global crowd-funded scholarship initiative.

scholarship-uniplaces-fundingIt may not be the answer to every student’s plea for scholarship help, but one company’s global call-to-action may signal the start of a whole new way of funding students’ higher-ed journey.

The initiative, named the ‘Living The Dream Scholarship’, is the first program to support student mobility funded collectively by the global student community.

The initiative aims to promote kindness as currency, asking interested students applying for the scholarship to submit videos of themselves carrying out ‘random acts of kindness’ on fellow students. At least one scholarship will be awarded to a student in America.

Living the Dream is a program created by Uniplaces, which launched in 2013 and has quickly become a fast-growing international website for booking student accommodation. The company works closely with universities and professional accommodation providers, and is backed by many major investors, including Octopus Investments and the founders of Zoopla and LOVEFiLM.

“The financial pressures of moving somewhere new are a barrier for many students,” said Ben Grech, co-founder of Uniplaces in a statement. “At Uniplaces, we’re passionate about increasing student mobility across the globe and empowering students to have a healthy and happy experience at university. The Living the Dream Scholarship is testament to our commitment to breaking down social and geographical barriers for students. It offers the chance of financial support while at the same time inspiring students to be extra nice to each other from day-to-day.”

(Next page: How the Scholarship works and how students apply)

According to Uniplaces, the pioneering scholarship will fund the accommodation costs for selected students all over the world. Students from anywhere in the world can apply for the scholarship to help with the mounting costs of university–especially when studying abroad.

For a chance to win the scholarship opportunity, students must access the microsite scholarship.uniplaces.com and set up a profile. They must then submit videos of ‘random acts of kindness’ they carry out to “make [the] university a better place for their fellow students and the student community as a whole,” states the company. This act of kindness must be uploaded to the student’s profile.

 

The five students carrying out the “kindest” acts across the globe, including one from the UK, will have one semester of accommodation paid for through the Scholarship. Other rewards will be available throughout the year for smaller acts of kindness.

Random acts of kindness have already been suggested by students using Uniplaces’ social media profiles. Ideas range from topping up a housemate’s travel card to organizing furniture swap shops on campus.

The Uniplaces Living the Dream scholarship is built on a Social Growth Model, meaning that it grows as Uniplaces grows. With every booking made through the Uniplaces website, £1 will be placed in the fund. As Uniplaces is set to receive a rapidly increasing number of bookings, says the company, the plan is for the scholarship to be awarded to more new applicants each year.

“Uniplaces believes everyone should feel they have a place at university, and every element of this campaign is designed to help not just those who obtain scholarships, but anyone who comes into contact with an act of kindness,” said Grech. “It’s a simple mechanic that really brings our mission to life and encourages students to make their campuses welcoming for everyone. It’s our goal to make the scholarship bigger each year, because, for us, it’s not just a scholarship—it’s a movement to help empower students to follow their dreams, while inspiring a culture of kindness across the globe”.

Kind acts can be submitted at http://scholarship.uniplaces.com until Friday April 10th. Anyone can head to the website to sign up to take part, vote for their favorite kind acts, and donate to the Scholarship fund.

Profiles with the most votes will have the best chance of obtaining one of the first Living the Dream Scholarships, and friends, family, and other students can ‘vote’ for videos; those with most engagement will be considered for the main Scholarship award. The winners will be selected from the videos with the most votes. 20 ‘kind acts’ will then be presented to a Uniplaces judging panel, which will choose the five students to be awarded the scholarship.

However, to celebrate the launch, Uniplaces has today announced a pilot trial of the scholarship, offering five students (one from Spain, one from the UK, one from Italy, one from the USA and one awarded to a student from anywhere in the world) the chance to fund their accommodation for the rest of the current semester.

The winners of the pilot Scholarships, selected by a Uniplaces judging panel, will be announced on Tuesday April 14th, and any donations received will go straight into the Living the Dream Scholarship fund for next semester.